Well, I must say that I'm disappointed. I decided to check out my latest plant acquisitions (see previous post) and found out that, in Ohio, the "Hawkeye" Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica) is an invasive plant species. I went to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website and found my new plant on their 10-most-UNwanted-list. *sigh*
I was familiar with the invasives like Purple Loosestrife, and have often seen masses of Common Reed, especially along freeway drainage swales, and other low lying areas. But I had no idea that these pretty honeysuckles are flora-non-grata in my state. I remembered lots of honeysuckle shrubs around were I grew up in Lake County, Ohio. Dark green leaves and bright red berries. As kids we didn't know they were honeysuckles, we just called them 'bird bushes' because there were always a lot of birds eating the berries. Was the "Hawkeye" the only honeysuckle baddie? But no. Further search found another informative site, The Nature Conservancy in Ohio. Here the 4 invasive honeysuckle bushes (and suggested alternatives) are listed.
I did a few searches using the words "invasive plants" or "invasive species" and the name of a state and found state sites with invasives as well as "now what do I do?" advice. You might want to bookmark your state's list for reference. I'm finding that some of the seeds I've received in seed exchanges are invasives in my area so will not even sow them now that I know.
Since my honeysuckle was on sale, there is no taking it back. And honestly, I wouldn't want it to go back on the shelf to be sold to some other unwary customer. Instead I'll dispose of it in a way so as not to give it opportunity to root in compost or end up in a landfill. Alerting the store about the plant most likely would achieve nothing, it being a local quick-sell overstock type of store that it is. No, I'm sure that any comment to the management that they are selling invasive species would fall on deaf ears and the employees probably don't have any say on what they sell anyway. The real nub is that what they sell is not illegal. Still, that just doesn't make it right. (Note: had I purchased the honeysuckle from a nursery, you can bet your garden clogs I'd have made an issue out of it!)
As gardeners we take great pleasure from our gardens and in sharing our bounty. The flip side is we have a responsibility to not be part of a problem (introducing invasives), but be part of the solution. And it's a simple thing to do: check your state listings. (Honestly, they aren't all that long from what I've read). Then simply don't plant those troublemakers. Instead, opt for something native or non-invasive (that list is monster-huge!). :-D
So even though something is readily available, or cheap, or popularly accepted, as gardeners and growers we have to think of a different bottom line: the health of our native environments. In the end, this was, for me, a good lesson learned. From now on I will familiarize myself with invasive species in my area and be more aware of my gardening practices.
I mean, even though I'm pinching pennies like a lot of us these days, I sure don't want to sell out Mom Nature just to save a buck.